Usually a $3 movie buys you a seat inside a cramped, sticky movie theater showing last year’s releases. In Fairfield, Conn., it buys much more.
Leo Redgate, a 1990 graduate, established the Community Theatre Foundation, a nonprofit organization located inside a renovated 80-year-old theater that shows a wide variety of current, independent, classic and foreign films for $3, and then gives the profits to charity.
Spurred by the closing of the 1920s-era theater as a result of the overwhelming presence of a nearby multiplex, Redgate put together a plan that not only saved the building but helped others at the same time.
“I thought the theater closing was a shame,” says Redgate. “I was always saying, ‘What they really need to do is this.’ ”
Rather than leave it to someone else, though, Redgate decided he was the one who should do it. And his idea is a hit in the area. Not only does the community get movies and the profits, but he’s staffing it with high school students from Fairfield and neighboring Bridgeport, so they can gain some business experience.
“The kids work five-hour shifts without pay and they love every minute of it,” he says. “It’s extremely rewarding. It’s about seeing kids have the opportunity to shine and show what they are really made of.”
Some of the area’s better-known residents are also actively supporting the theater. Among them: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, singer Michael Bolton, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and Miramax Films co-chair Harvey Weinstein.